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In Hollywoodland, all automatic firearms benefit from the Law of Inverse Recoil and function solely on the premise of "Spray a lot of bullets on full auto and at least some of them will hit something", and not "I should actually aim at whatever I'm shooting at so I can hit it and take it down in the least amount of shots possible".

Therefore, fictional guns don't bother with gun sights of any kind, since nobody really uses them anyways. A Hand Wave common in SF settings is that some sort of HUD allows the shooter to aim without actually lining up a bead.

See also A-Team Firing.

Examples of Sighted Guns Are Low Tech include:

Comic Books

  • The Lawgiver from Judge Dredd at first glance appears to have no sights. Turns out that the lens on the rear is a sight down the line of the barrel.


  • Every Ray Gun from 1950's science fiction films.
  • The M41-A Pulse Rifle from Aliens has no iron sights at all.
    • The Pulse Rifle actually has a channel down the top of the shroud that acts as a set of iron sights.
    • Justified with the Smart-Guns in that they have computer assisted aiming, though.
  • Justified in The Fifth Element; Zorg advertises that the ZF-1 guns don't need to be aimed: you program the target, then no matter where you aim, the bullets will curve in midair to hit the target. The ZF-1 actually does have a scope on it, but it is hard to see amongst all the other attachments.
  • Averted in Star Wars, mainly because the blasters were modeled off of real guns - in fact, seeing a blaster in the original films that doesn't have a scope mounted on it somewhere is a rare occurrence. Not that any stormtroopers use them, though.
  • Men in Black plays this trope pretty straight, since all the guns are modeled on 50s sci-fi rayguns.
  • Scaramanga's Golden Gun has no sights.
    • Justified, as Scaramanga is an assassin by trade and an exceptional marksman - and the gun is assembled from innocuous-looking parts.
    • The pen used as the barrel seems to have its clip positioned to function as a front sight, though there is no such substitute for a rear sight on the lighter. In either case, other depictions of the weapon avert this - the original weapon in the novel was a gold-plated Colt revolver, and the video games tend to feature a gold-plated version of Bond's own Walther PPK as a sort of upgraded, magazine-fed version of the gun alongside the single-shot one from the film.
  • Excluding the scoped version used by Private Watkins, the Morita Assault Rifles in The Film of the Book Starship Troopers lack sights of any kind.
  • Sort of subverted in RoboCop; his super-charged Beretta has iron sights, but they are never necessary due to his cyborg nature.


  • Time Scout averts this. Guns are among the things treated realistically. Old guns are treated as more difficult than modern guns, as among modern advancements are those that make them easier to use. But even dangerous modern guns (mostly just described as being "modern" and "evil looking") still have sights and have to be aimed. Many bullets are fired, but very few people end up shot, except at close range.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek phasers have no sights at all.
    • Averted in Deep Space Nine. Actors had so much trouble aiming their guns (so that the effects team could add in the beams coming straight out of the weapons and still hit the target) that the weapons were redesigned with gun sights.
    • Type III Phaser Rifles also have a zoom-able scope on top.
      • As do the rifles used by the MAKOs. One was specifically used in the Old West-themed episode to take out a cowboy in a window.
  • Ditto all of the alien weapons in Stargate. Though the earthlings suspect that they're weapons of terror rather than weapons of war, and such is borne out in the hordes of Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy graduates that almost universally wield them. The fact remains that some characters (such as Teal'c) are still superb shots with the things.
    • This gets ridiculous to the extent that Goa'uld Death Gliders lack any sort of targeting systems, requiring their pilot/gunner to aim the staff cannons manually. Mostly, they just strafe their targets, though.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000 mostly averts this, as bolters have what seem to be iron sights. Strangely enough, heavy bolters have them too, even though they're specifically designed to be fired from the hip.
    • Only Space Marine variants. The Guard fire them from tripods, if they tried the hip method their arms'd fall off.
    • Some Chaos Space Marines also have special bolters whose nozzles are redesigned to resemble the open jaws of a daemon. Cool, but it really hampers with iron sights.
    • Likewise, the Imperial Guard's lasguns have sights (and sometimes bayonets)- and so do the rifles of the highly advanced Eldar and Tau. Figures that the setting that deliberately goes for outdated designs would get something right that nearly all settings don't.
      • Many troop types have systems linking their guns to their helmets to assist aim, but they keep the iron sights just in case.
        • In Real Life militaries there's a clear trend towards scoped guns. Does the fact that a gun has a scope or red dot sight mean that the iron sights are removed? In most cases -- definitely not.
    • So do Ork weapons, but being Orks, they have no idea what they're there for.
      • Why, it's there so the gun is more accurate!
        • We call dem gubbinz, and we puts em on da shootaz cuz it makes dem look shootier. Given that Ork technology operates on Clap Your Hands If You Believe, this may actually work.
          • Dat's right! If'n we'z be thinkin' dat dem lit'l bitz o' metal make our shootaz more hittier, den da shootaz'll be more hittier! But, yewz ain't no ork if ya wantz ta be hittier insted o' shootier, ya grot.
        • OY ya git yuze mukin about! Yuze dont need ta aim when yuze got MORE DAKA HA DAKA DAKA DAKADAKADAKADAKADAKA
    • Tyranid weapons don't have sights, they have eyes.
    • The Eldar almost completely avert this, pretty much every weapon in their arsenal (down to the pistols...) is equipped with either an optical scope or a sense-link that allows the user's HUD to display a view of what the gun is looking at.

Video Games

  • The modern trend is that this trope is generally becoming less common in shooters (especially first person shooters), for the simple reason that the games tend to have mechanics for aiming down sights that the player usually has to make use of to get any mileage out of your average gun.
  • The entire top of the assault rifle from the Halo games is completely smooth. So are most of the Covenant weapons. (Though the Expanded Universe claims that the weapon has backup iron sights somewhere along the top.)
    • This is actually averted with almost all other human projectile weapons, which either have a scope or recognizable iron sights. Even the alien-designed Brute Spiker has iron sights, at least in Halo: Reach.
    • Justified with the needler though, as it fires homing ammunition and thus does not need precision aiming.
      • Partially handwavable since all characters controlled by the player in the games (and thus presumably all Spartans, ODSTs and Elites) have targeting systems independent of the weapons. This doesn't explain how everyone else aims with these weapons, though (although given the problems the Earth Government is having with breakaway colonies and all other manner of insurgency, it's entirely possible they don't want civilians to be able to use their weapons effectively).
      • It's pretty clear that the UNSC marines have heads up displays that allow them to aim, just like Spartans or Elites.
    • The top of the assault rifle in the Marathon series is likewise smooth, but the thing is so inaccurate that it doesn't matter much. With the other guns (except for the SMG's actual usable sight) one just has to aim for the middle of the screen and watch the impact flashes, since there are no crosshairs in the Marathon HUD.
      • Especially strange since the pistols in Marathon 1 are drawn with scopes, but alas they're only for decoration. (The pistols are the most accurate gun however, even Guns Akimbo.
  • Averted in Half-Life 2. The AR2 Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rifle has tiny iron sights. Nobody uses them and they're hardly noticeable, though.
    • Another aversion in the same game: the MP7 which has an open reflex sight.
    • The Tau Cannon from the first game seems specifically designed to be fired from the hip. On the other hand, it IS a prototype that doesn't even have covering, much less sights of any kind.
    • And taken to extremes in Opposing Force, an expansion for the first game. Some of the weapons are living creatures that spit plasma or acid. It looks as if it would be tough enough just to point the thing at something and coax it into belching biological death directly in front of it. Never mind sticking any gun sights on their heads. On the other hand, Shephard IS a highly-trained Marine so he might be just that good at eyeballing.
      • It's entirely possible that the creatures do the aiming themselves. How Shephard can coax them into doing so is another matter entirely.
      • There's also the Desert Eagle, which for some reason forgoes ironsights entirely in favor of a laser aiming module.
  • The machine gun (which is actually more of a submachine gun) from Doom 3 seems to be completely ripped off from the assault rifle from the Halo games. That means it has no sights.
    • In the original Doom games neither of the energy weapons have any sights (though with the BFG you really don't need them). The rocket launcher sports both a rear sight and a pistol grip to make it viable, but said sight can't be seen in first person.
  • Averted somewhat with Gears of War; the lancer has iron sights. But none of the other guns do.
    • In the sequel the Hammerburst has been redesigned and now has sights but the shotgun still doesn't.
  • Averted in Perfect Dark Zero. All the guns can be fired from their gun sights.
  • Fallout 3's hunting rifle has no iron sights at all (which is funny, given that it was one of the few guns in the first two games that could be scoped,) but it's strangely one of the more accurate long-range guns in the game.
    • Given that you can only aim so well with the crosshairs anyway at long-range, you may or may not be using V.A.T.S. to help you.
    • Played nearly straight in Fallout: New Vegas, though, which optionally uses iron sights as opposed to just zooming in. Most ballistic weapons use them (like the returning hunting rifle), as do some of the energy weapons. Not applied consistently though: some weapons that would benefit greatly from iron sights (like laser rifles) lack them, while weapons that lose effectiveness with iron sights (like grenade launchers) have them.
      • It becomes somewhat more consistent if all mods are added - laser rifles get a scope. In addition, the Gun Runners' Arsenal DLC somewhat fixes this by adding versions of default laser/plasma weapons to which ironsights can be attached.
      • As a general rule, low tech guns (revolvers, small automatic pistols, simple rifles, and the classic plasma defender, for example) have good iron sights, but the high tech weapons like the high-end autopistols and nearly all energy weapons lack them unless you add a scope on your own. Generally the low end weapons seem to be designed to work well, and the high end weapons seem designed to look cool.
  • Required in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, after an EMP strike which renders aftermarket gunsights useless. This requires the use of firearms with iron sights, thus forcing the player to dispose of them consequentially…
    • Couldn't you just remove the optics? The iron sights are still on the gun after all.
      • No; the game engine doesn't let you, and just about every gun in the game has its iron sights removed if optics are mounted. However, you can find an M4 without optics a while before your first firefight in that mission.
    • EMPs are available in multiplayer, too, and will disable all Red Dot and Holographic sights (among other things) for a time...except for that of the F2000's unique Red Dot (modeled after the real F2000's specialized sight, which doubles as an electronic fire-control system for the EGLM grenade launcher).
    • In an odd aversion, Call of Duty: World at War has an easter egg Ray Gun in Nazi Zombies. Said gun has a reflex sight, unlike the rest of the game's guns which are all from World War Two, making it one of the most accurate guns in the game.
    • An aversion in Call of Duty: Black Ops lets you replace the iron sights on the M1911 with better iron sights (adding flourescent dots to the rear sight and coloring the front sight.) Unfortunately, since you can only put one upgrade on a pistol and other upgrades include extended magazines or going Guns Akimbo, this is overlooked for the most part.
  • Similar to the practice of Call of Duty and other more modern shooters, Iron Grip: Warlord encourages you to aim with iron sights for more accurate and effective fire. However, only the basic double-barelled rifle and light machine gun feature workable iron sights (activated by the secondary firing mode).
  • Operation Flashpoint is notable for being one of the first FPS games to thoroughly avert this. Each firearm had working sights and using them was essential for hitting anything properly at all (especially if you maxed up the difficulty by disabling things like the small context-sensitive targeting reticule).
    • As a general rule, NATO sniper rifles have a simple crosshair scope, Soviet sniper rifles have a scope with a functional stadiametric rangefinder; assault rifles, carbines and small anti-tank missiles have iron sights while man-portable AA launchers and larger anti-tank missiles have reflex sights.
    • The later Arm A games take this further, with different weapons available with different sets of optics. Operation Arrowhead in particular gives the player the ability to zero in long-range optics to compensate for bullet drop or sight along backup iron sights above them for close-range or night-time shooting.
  • They're a little too small to see if the guns feature sights, but Terran Marines in Starcraft shoot from the hip constantly. Although with a Powered Armor heads-up display they might not need 'em.
  • Being that it takes place after an apocalyptic event and most of the guns are made from scavenged scrap metal, the guns of Metro 2033 all use iron sights, though some (namely, the revolver and some Kalash rifles) have sights with dots of glow-in-the-dark paint.
  • Averted in Dead Space if you look closely. The pulse rifle, which is the only weapon in the game that was actually designed to be used as a weapon rather than a mining tool, does indeed have iron sights on it (although like all weapons in the game, you aim it using a laser pointer instead).
  • Averted with most of the guns in Borderlands naturally, since the game allows you to aim down the sights. There are a few pistols that don't have sights, though.
  • Several guns in PlanetSide don't have any recognizable iron sights. The Terran Republics' Cycler assault rifle, which is the most accurate automatic weapon in teh game, has no iron sights or optics. The Vanu Sovereignty's Pulsar assault rifle has no iron sights, but it has a scope affixed to the side of the gun - the wrong side, meaning soldiers would have to hold the gun sideways to use it. The New Conglomerate, which relies on more old fashioned technology, has iron sights on all their weapons, including their Jackhammer shotgun which has an effective range of about 6 feet.


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